I stayed away from procedures. I never, ever volunteered to do anything and would always do the bare minimum to pass on every single rotation. If the procedure was to be done on a patient with a known STD or blood-borne illness, I refused to do it.
You see, it honestly wasn’t worth it for me to risk a needle stick while performing an invasive procedure on a HIV/HepC+ patient. I don’t care how low the reported risk is — the honest truth is that there is still a risk. The risk of contracting HIV from a needle stick is higher than people winning the lottery, and people win the lottery nearly every day.
I’m sure most of you guys have seen something like the following:
A 42 year old HIV+/HepC+ male with chronic alcoholism and a history of current IV drug abuse.
- Point 1: If it wasn’t for his or her poor lifestyle decisions, they probably wouldn’t be here in the first place.
- Point 2: If I wanted to take the risk of contracting whatever it is that the patient has, I sure wouldn’t do it working 14 hour days and being abused in some shitty hospital.
It just wasn’t procedures, either. I absolutely detested the OR. I hated it with every fiber of my being. My hate stemmed not only from the asshole residents and attendings that I had to spend hours with, but also from the fact that blood was most likely going to be shooting and splattering about the fucking place at some point. For example, we once had a HepC+ guy on the vascular service who needed a femoral popliteal bypass done. He was a chronic alcoholic with near end-stage liver disease, and by the looks of him had lived quite the “exciting life” at the ripe old age of somewhere in his mid-40s. I hoped to God he would leave AMA before we had to take him to the OR.
I’m just not built to take care of people who don’t take care of themselves — and those were exactly the kinds of patients seen at training institutions that take care of the indigent population.
I’m glad I got out when I did. Fuck Hippocrates, let Darwin sort ‘em out. It’s survival of the fittest.